If you have been injured in a car accident, Texas law allows you to bring a claim against a negligent driver for any personal injuries that you have suffered. If a loved one was killed in a wreck caused by a negligent driver, the victim's next of kin has the right to sue for damages related to the wrongful death.
However, there are time limits, known as statutes of limitation, within which a victim or family must bring a personal injury lawsuit. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a lawsuit for personal injuries is generally two years from the date of the accident. If a lawsuit is not commenced within that time, it will be forever barred from court with no notice to the claimant.
Nonetheless, there are some important exceptions to the two-year limit. If the victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, the two-year clock doesn't start to run until the victim reaches the age of 18. Similarly, if the victim was under a mental disability at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations will be suspended or "tolled" until the victim recovers from the mental disability.
In a wrongful death case arising out of a car accident, the statute of limitations is also two years, but the two years does not begin to run on the date of the victim's death. Thus, if the victim was seriously injured in a car accident and died from those injuries a year later, the two-year wrongful death deadline begins to run on the date of death, not the date of the accident.
The information in this post is general and should not be considered as legal advice. There are many exceptions and nuances to the statutes of limitation that cannot be addressed in a short blog post. In addition, even if you believe you have time under the statute to bring a claim, it is always best to consult an attorney without delay, so that investigation can begin before evidence disappears and while witnesses' memories are still fresh.
Source: Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. §16.003(a), accessed September 2, 2014